Green Festival – San Francisco – November 12-13, 2011
This last weekend the Green Festival celebrated its tenth anniversary at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco. The festival was sponsored by Global Exchange and Green America.Global Exchange: “Global Exchange is a global human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice since 1988.
We’re changing the rules across the globe from a profit-centered global economy to thriving people-centered local economies; from the politics of greed to a living democracy that respects the rights of workers and nature; and from currency to community.
Our holistic approach reaches thousands of members and supporters, through educating the U.S. public about root causes of injustice and the impacts of U.S. government policies and corporate practices. We inspire change by building people-to-people ties, engaging grassroots education for action and linking social and environmental movements.
We are based in San Francisco, CA and are membership sustained” Green America: “Green America is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1982. (We went by the name “Co-op America” until January 1, 2009.)
Our mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.
Our Vision – We work for a world where all people have enough, where all communities are healthy and safe, and where the bounty of the Earth is preserved for all the generations to come.”It is reported that over 40,000 people attended the two day Green Festival. The event completely filled the Concourse Exhibition Center - a 125,000 square foot pavilion. Divided into specialty areas the festival included: The Main Stage, Ben & Jerry’s Community Action Pavilion, Fair Trade Pavilion, Sustainable Home and Garden Pavilion, Green Business Pavilion, Green Kids Zone, Acoustic Café, DIY Demo Area, Organic Beer & Wine Garden, Sierra Club Green Cinema, and a coaching area. Each area featured hourly programming throughout the event.
Hundreds of Green Organizations and businesses had booths in the exhibition spaces. Among the groups were the Festival Partners : “Partners are companies that have have passed the Green America screening process for leadership in social and environmental responsibility and have earned the Green America Seal of Approval for their commitment. Focused on business as a tool for positive change, these values-driven, green business leaders are committed to sustainable practices.” Some of these groups are known as Corporate Innovators. One ”innovator” which had the largest chunk of exhibit space was Ford Motor Company. They are introducing a new line of all electric and hybrid vehicles: ”Ford Motor Company is a global automotive industry leader committed to creating sustainable automobile solutions for everyone. By 2012 Ford will be expanding its vehicle lineup to include five new electric vehicles, including next generation hybrids, a plug in hybrid and a full electric vehicle.” At the main stage the program began on Saturday with “The Power of Plants: Discovering the Benefits of a Plant-based Diet. The panelists included Jack Norris, RD. , Dr Michael Klaper, M.D., Coleen Holland, Jeffrey Smith, and Eric Tucker It was moderated by Jeff Golfman – the “Cool Vegetarian“.All of the food at the festival was vegetarian and mostly vegan.
This was followed for the rest of the day by Laura Flanders, John Perkins, Frances Moore Lappe, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., Anuradha Mittal, Jeffrey Smith, and Alicia Gravitz – Executive Director of Green America.
Sunday’s program began at noon with a rousing and well attended presentation by the award winning journalist - Amy Goodman. Her presentation did not focus much on environmental issues specifically. Mostly she shared concerns about human rights by telling stories of individual people and strugles. She spoke about the Troy Davis execution held recently in Georgia, an East Timor Massacre story, her personal experience of the life and death Ken Saro-Wiwa in Nigeria, and her recent interview of an Occupy Oakland demonstrator. These were stories of ordinary people who took a stand, “spoke truth to power,” and made a difference. Though her examples were not about environmentalists, she elucidated the connections between human rights issues and environmental degridation.
Later on Sunday there was a presentation by Mark Hertsgaard. He briefly touched on some environmental issues such as Climate Change. He spent more time stressing the importance of the “Occupy” movement, and what it could mean to the political process:
”The bursting to life of the Occupy Wall Street movement is the most hopeful development in American politics since Barack Obama was elected president three years ago this month. Obama’s election has turned out to be largely a false hope. But that false hope might still be redeemed – and the president motivated to become the reformer he once pledged to be – if the Occupy movement grows into the kind of massive, broad-based, relentless movement no president can afford to ignore.”
He also talked quite a bit about the recent environmentalist victory in the decision to pospone Keystone XL Pipeline project.
His new book is Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth.
The festival came to a close on a Pagan note with a presentation and ritual by Starhawk and the Spiral Dance Chorus and Band. As others did, Starhawk spoke about the “Occupy” movement, and explored “Occupy’s ‘ conection to environmental concerns.
She examined the “General Assembly” consensus based governing process currently being used by the movement. Pointing out that it was early in the organization process, she referred to mistakes being made:
“We could have changed the world ten times over if we didn’t have to do it together with other people: those irritating, self righteous, controlling, fluf brained, clueless idiots who are our friends and allies. We can do better. Learn to create nurturing group structures, deal with difficult people, and embrace constructive conflict.”
These ideas are drawn from Starhawk’s new book – The Empowerment Manual. She wrote An Open Letter to the Occupy Movement: Why We Need Agreements to offer help to the movement:
“Just as we call for accountability and transparency, we ourselves must be accountable and transparent. Some tactics are incompatible with those goals, even if in other situations they might be useful, honorable or appropriate. We can’t be transparent behind masks. We can’t be accountable for actions we run away from. We can’t maintain the security culture necessary for planning and carrying out attacks on property and also maintain the openness that can continue to invite in a true diversity of new people. We can’t make alliances with groups from impacted communities, such as immigrants, if we can’t make agreements about what tactics we will employ in any given action.”The next Green Festival will be on Earth Day Weekend, April 21-22, 2012, in New York CityFor more photos of this event please see my flickr group.
Greg Harder for PNC Bay Area